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The American Academy of Arts and Letters Announces Newly Elected Members
READ/WRITE/THINK/DREAM, 2001. John Baldessari. Stuart Collection, University of California, San Diego. Photo by: Philipp Scholz Rittermann

NEW YORK.-The American Academy of Arts and Letters will hold its annual induction and award ceremony on Wednesday, May 21, 2008. Ezra Laderman, president of the Academy, will conduct the presentation of more than fifty awards in architecture, art, literature, and music.

On behalf of the Academy, President Laderman stated, ''In its charge to identify those who have reached the highest level of artistic achievement, the Academy enthusiastically welcomes its new members.'' Secretary of the Academy, Richard Howard, will induct eight members into the 250-person organization: artists John Baldessari and Ursula von Rydingsvard; writers Kwame Anthony Appiah, Robert A. Caro, Stephen Greenblatt, Paul Muldoon, Calvin Trillin, and Joy Williams. Academician Wallace Shawn will deliver the Blashfield Foundation Address, titled The Unobtrusives.

An exhibition of art, architecture, books, and manuscripts by new members and recipients of awards will be on view at the Academy's galleries from May 22 to June 15, 2008.

John Baldessari (a native of National City, south of San Diego) is internationally renowned as a conceptual artist who invented a completely new approach to photography, often working with images taken from old Hollywood black and white movie stills. As an influential teacher at UCSD, California Institute of the Arts and UCLA he has encouraged students to break the rules for over 30 years.

Ursula von Rydingsvard (1942 -) is a Polish-American abstract sculptor. Born in a German refugee camp, she emigrated to Connecticut with her family in 1950, and later studied art at Columbia University. There, she developed her distinctive style: folded, organic forms constructed from sawn and chiseled cedar beams, sometimes painted or blackened with graphite. Her sculptures are frequently monumental in scale and exhibited outdoors.

Today, von Rydingsvard is on the art faculty at the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been exhibited widely, and is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Storm King Art Center, the University of Massachusetts public art collection, and other galleries.

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